PNP busts online dating syndicate

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The National Police chief warned against fake accounts on social media that supposedly uses a "romance scam" to receive money from netizens. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 1) — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director-General Oscar Albayalde, said the police have arrested seven members of a syndicate that extorted money from a netizen through online dating.

Albayalde said the syndicate conned an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) into paying ₱600,000 through a "love-matching scheme."

"The PNP anti-cybercrime group busted an online dating syndicate that defrauded an OFW a total amount of 600 thousand pesos through a pseudo-online love-matching scheme," Albayalde told the media Monday.

C/Supt. Marni Marcos, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Operation Division chief, explained that the syndicate created a fake account on Facebook and had a "relationship" with the OFW.

The OFW had been sending money to his alleged friend for two years, totaling ₱600,000. The PNP calls this a "romance scam."

Marcos advised netizens to be suspicious of Facebook accounts that have been created recently should they approach them for any favors.

"Tingnan ilan ang friends nila, kung 'yung Facebook created several years ago…kung bago lang 'yung Facebook account and iilan lang friends niya magkaroon na nang pagdududa," Marcos said.

[Translation: Look at the Facebook account see how many friends and if it was created several years ago…if the Facebook account is new and has only a few friends, be suspicious.]

He pointed out the rising number of online romance scam victims.

"'Yung report natin on romance scam, ito ay increasing. Maraming nabibiktima dito [Our reports on romance scams are increasing. A lot are victimized by this]. Some people believe they are having a relationship with a foreigner," Marcos said.

Albayalde said social media, while saddled with potential threats, remains a vital tool in apprehending and identifying criminals.

"Nagagamit na din 'yan 'yung internet, sa social media. There are several occasions na maraming nahuli because of social media at naidentify 'yung criminal so pwede natin matake advantage 'yan," he said.

[Translation: We can use the internet and social media. There are several occasion where a lot of criminals were caught and identified because of social media. We can take advantage of it.]